PhilB From Ireland, joined May 1999, 2915 posts, RR: 14 Reply 1, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 1326 times:
Depends on the track you use, time of day and visibility, both vertical and horizontal.
With the decreased seps it should be easier to see other aircraft but, unless they are trailing, seeing another aircraft some distance away is a little more difficult than from on the ground as you have fewer points of reference against which to see movement and parallel traffic is therefore difficult to spot as there is little relative movement.
Opposition traffic, because of the way scheduled traffic crosses in each direction, is rare.
I have had a couple of instances over the years where the aircraft I have been on has "kept station" with another for over 5 hours and yet not another aircraft has been seen. A trip to the cockpit has then "revealed" another half dozen or so aircraft on the radio, not visible from the cockpit or cabin, but all within a distance where all the flights would be visible from the ground.
Night Hawk From Australia, joined Jul 1999, 273 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 1304 times:
Im not to sure about the Atlantic. Its certainly a stong possibility when over the oceans to see other aircraft. This is because planes dont fly in a straight line between points, they follow jetways, imaginary highways in the sky for heavy jets. These jetways have intersections like highways where they intersect. when you approach one of these intersections its always a possibility that you will see another aircraft. When I flew to the US from Perth West Australia, I saw 4 jets at once near the one intersection so if you pick the right time you could see quite a few planes.
PhilB From Ireland, joined May 1999, 2915 posts, RR: 14 Reply 3, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 1296 times:
There are no jetways on the North Atlantic. Aircraft either follow set North Atlantic Tracks, using the NATS system where tracks are set each day due to weather, or follow "random tracks". Until about 300 miles abeam the North American coast, or 100 - 150 miles off the Irish, Scottish and French coasts, there are no intersections
Boeing727 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 934 posts, RR: 0 Reply 7, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1269 times:
All tracks across the Atlantic going from Europe to Noth America (or vise versa) are set for that particular day depending on the weather; there are no random tracks within this system. And yes it is possible to see planes above and beyond ones position because of the layout of the tracks.
Ishky15 From United States of America, joined May 2000, 717 posts, RR: 14 Reply 8, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 1255 times:
One time on a Continental DC-10 flight from Zurich to Newark, I remember seeing a Delta Airlines jet below us sometime over the atlantic. I felt good because our plane was going faster than the DL one, and it probably was a 767, heading in the same direction as us, New York.
Ilyushin96M From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 2609 posts, RR: 14 Reply 9, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 1252 times:
On my flight back to the US in 1992 aboard an Aeroflot IL86, I looked out the window and down a bit, and saw a KLM 747-400 fly by. I've often seen aircraft pass the plane I was flying in whilst over the Atlantic, albeit at different heights and speeds.
MEL From Canada, joined Oct 1999, 1082 posts, RR: 13 Reply 10, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 1240 times:
It isn't that common to see another aircraft. Only time I've ever seen one was on a UA 777 flight from AMS-IAD in August. We were overtaking an Air France A340-300 who was to our left, at the same altitude. We were so close to it, that the captain went on the p/a notifying everyone of what we were doing, and that those passengers who had raised concern over the closeness of the maneuver could sit back and not worry. When you get over the NYC area, you realize how chaotic the airspace is, as you will see planes off both wings all the time.
PhilB From Ireland, joined May 1999, 2915 posts, RR: 14 Reply 11, posted (12 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 1216 times:
"Random tracks are those tracks that where the aircraft's requested and confirmed route does not correspond to the NATS track allocation in the Shanwick/Gander OCAs" (source, North Atlantic Track System, allocation and procedures - UK CAA)
These are allocated everyday by Shanwick and Gander to accommodate aircraft on routes from/to northern Europe from/to the Caribbean which, due to wind, range etc, do not wish to use the track system. They also are arranged to accommodate military flights, bizjets and ferry flights. When I listen during the day to the North Atlantic HF nets, I hear between two and five random tracks allocated per day which cut across the allocated tracks plus a growing number of reverse flow flights.
During the main "flow" periods east and west, every flight in the opposite direction is nominally "random" as the tracks are set up at given times each day and expire when the reverse tracks are set.
By the same token, tracks in the Icelandic HF region, across Greenland and on to Baffin Island are not set in the same way as those in the main traffic stream. In effect a number of routes are allocated and given a number but there are more random routes allocated in that area.
New York and Santa Maria do not allocate tracks and every crossing is nominally following a random track.